NEW YORK (ACNI) – I recently watched Advanced Style, a documentary produced by the creator of the eponymous blog that chronicles the personal style of women over 50: a purple, blue and green caftan topped with an orange scarf and pounds of silver bangles to teach an art class (llona, age 93); a red and black patterned skirt suit with matching hat, all made from African textiles, for lunch at the neighborhood diner (Lynn, age 89); and five strands of opera length pearls just because (Jacquie, age 78). These women walked down the street or rode their bike (Tziporah, age 63, in a Japanese kimono, 1920s turban and loads of coral necklaces) with the magic gait that only comes from feeling completely and comfortably yourself.
What struck me most was not that these women had better style than the majority of women at any age (they did), but how happy and vibrant they were. When the film cut to a shot of models walking the runway at New York Fashion Week or the latest ad for so and so brand, the young and the new were lifeless in comparison.
I was going to write about how statement jewelry makes the perfect holiday party accessory, but after watching these women excitedly fling open their closets, I realized that the only way to dress for a celebration is to simply wear what celebrates you – your creativity, your taste, your style.
We don’t have to put on a boring sweater when visiting our family and we aren’t confined sequins just because the invitation says “festive.” I can’t count the number of times I bought a dress last-minute because I thought I needed to look “holiday-ish” for a party, only to drag the dress over to Housing Works during my next closet cleanout.
I’m not saying to ignore all decorum and run around your grandmother’s house in one of those Gaultier bustiers just because you think they’re really cool (they are), but wouldn’t that moment of “ugh, what do I wear?” be a lot less stressful if we simply wore what we loved? Plus, when we feel like ourselves, we have way more fun.
I’ve found that the best places to find those “you” pieces that truly make your heart stop are auctions and flea markets. There is endless variety and you can buy a piece knowing that it is completely and entirely yours. You won’t ever fall victim to a “who wore it better” scenario, although once I had this serendipitous moment when a woman stopped me on Christopher Street and absolutely swore that the vintage floral skirt I was wearing had been her mother’s.
Here are the most special (I think) pieces coming up for auction that I can’t wait to wear this holiday season and then forever. But really, the best thing to do is explore for yourself. What have you always dreamed of wearing?
These Eleni Prieston earrings, sapphire diamond geode earrings, diamond enamel Buddha earrings, ruby and tourmaline earrings, gold earrings and coral earrings: Each pair is so special that I can’t pick just one. Earrings are perfect in the winter since they work when wearing a turtleneck or scarf (a bright cobalt scarf would look superb with those Buddhas), and these bright pieces add the necessary pizzazz to leggings and sweater days but are fancy enough for the fanciest party. Fellows, the auctioneer selling the gold pair, calls these “ear pendants” instead of earrings. That sounds so much better, doesn’t it? The coral, diamond and gold ones remind me of Christian Lacroix’s designs in the early ’80s, and check out those diamond spiders crawling across the geodes.
This black and white dress designed by Rei Kawakubo for Commes des Garcons. Kawakubo always garners acclaim for her avant garde ready-to-wear (remember her entirely flat Fall/Winter 2012 collection, full of two-dimensional coats and dresses?), but this piece is incredibly wearable, while still being adventurous, of course. It’s part of her Spring/Summer 2014 collection, but just throw a turtleneck on underneath (I would do a red or yellow one) and put on some tights – purple ones if you’re feeling bold or heather gray if you’re feeling a little less bold.
This Thea Porter embroidered and printed chiffon dress reminds me of what Anita Pallenberg would wear while spending the holidays in Marrakech with Keith Richards. Porter was an artist and designer who brought Middle Eastern style to London in the 1960s, and her clients included the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Lauren Bacall. This dress was actually inspired by a Celtic pattern and features Uzbek hand-embroidered sleeves. It definitely deserves to be worn with one of those pairs of earrings and some classic flat riding boots.
This hand-painted cape! It’s hard to not sound overly enthusiastic about this cape because just look at it. It’s velvet, from the 1920s, has Art Deco design brocade bands – and it’s lined in lame gold. This cape is an opera cape to be exact; meant to protect a lady’s evening finery. Honestly, you could just throw this on over a pair of sweatpants and be set for any and all holiday events. All joking aside, this incredible antique piece can be completely modern – I would wear it with a white tee, pair of jeans and ballet flats to a more casual get-together.
This Issey Miyake striped knit ensemble from the early ’80s. It will be completely comfortable – and so much better than pajamas – on Christmas morning, but will also look amazing (in a Grey Gardens sort of way) with a pair of red heels and a vintage fur stole. Miyake later become famous for his innovative pleated garments, but experimented with knits when first beginning his career. Steve Jobs saw his designs and loved them, leading the men to develop a friendship – and Jobs’ signature black turtlenecks.
The only thing more fun than bidding on a new holiday wardrobe is bidding on one-of-a-kind presents. These antique sketches of brooches, pendants, rings and bracelets (done by a designer for a famed jewelry house? It’s a mystery and that’s the best part) are the perfect gift for any fashion lover. Imagine each one framed and hanging in a bedroom or living room.
Happy holidays and happy dressing!
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